Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Cincinnati slides down in annual park score rating

bridge over river in background with flowers and trees in foreground
Smale Riverfront Park

Cincinnati's park system dropped two spots again this year in an annual ranking of park districts in the nation's 100 most populous cities. However, Cincinnati Parks still rank in the top 10.

The park district slipped to 8th place on the Trust for Public Land's ParkScore Rankings. The index ranks park systems on a host of criteria, including how close residents live to a park, investment in parks, etc.

"The city’s slight decline in the rankings was caused primarily by moves from other cities, not changes to the local park system," the Trust for Public Land notes in a release.

Cincinnati, it adds, does perform well on several metrics. "Eighty-eight percent of city residents live within a 10-minute walk of a park, above the national ParkScore city average of 76%. Cincinnati also outperforms for park investment. Cincinnati spent $190 per person this year on its park system, compared to $181 last year," the release states.

RELATED: Cincinnati's former Police District 5 gets new life as Parks’ headquarters

Across the country, spending on parks increased in 2023. It went from a ParkScore-era high of $108 per person last year to $124 per resident. The Trust attributes a lot of that to pandemic-era federal stimulus that enabled major projects to move forward.

Cincinnati scored 75.8 out of 100, only slightly lower than last year's score of 76.9.

In a release from Cincinnati Parks, the organization points out, "The strongest score of 94 out of 100 possible points was in the amenities category, which measures the abundance of popular features such as recreation centers, playgrounds, restrooms, and interactive water features. Cincinnati also realized a modest gain of 2 points in the equity category, which examines the distribution of parks and park space by race and income."

The top 10

Washington, D.C., retained the top slot again in this year's rankings. Here are the top 10 cities and their ParkScore rating:

1. Washington, D.C. — 84.8

2. Minneapolis, MN — 82.5

3. St. Paul, MN— 81.6

4. Irvine, CA — 80.1

5. Arlington, VA — 79.2

6. Seattle, WA — 77.4

7. San Francisco, CA — 76.5

8. Cincinnati, OH — 75.8

9. Portland, OR — 74.0

10. Chicago, IL — 71.8

How the rankings work

  • Park equity compares per capita park space in neighborhoods of color vs. white neighborhoods and in low-income neighborhoods vs. high-income neighborhoods. It also compares 10-minute-walk park access for people of color and lower-income residents. Park systems score higher if disparities are low or non-existent;
  • Park access measures the percentage of residents living within a 10-minute walk of a park;
  • Park acreage is based on a city's median park size and the percentage of city area dedicated to parks;
  • Park investment measures park spending per resident; and
  • Park amenities assesses the availability of six popular park features: basketball hoops, off-leash dog parks, playgrounds, splash pads and other water play structures, recreation and senior centers and restrooms.
Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.